You Say tom-A-to, I say tom-ah-to!

Travel Series: Volume 3

My friend Cody and I agree that vacations and travel are not the same things even though they share similar components.  He has some great thoughts on what makes them different.  Vacation tends to be about a week, a little less costly and  more about relaxation, visiting folks and smaller scale adventures.  Travel tends to be  2 weeks or longer,  a little more expensive, usually a more adventurous itinerary and takes us farther from home.  Although travel can be more rigorous, it is a great way to explore a country and it’s culture and can be an unforgettable experience.


Everybody needs to do Disney World with the fam,  visit the National Parks, or do what Kenny Chesney prescribes and just check out to “Some Beach” somewhere.  Whether it is Myrtle Beach, the Bahamas or Florida, people love to spread out a towel, soak up some sun and play in the surf.  If you blend that up with some margaritas and local cuisine you have a fine vacation indeed.

Cruises are what I like to think of as somewhat middle ground between vacation and travel.  They can be any length, fancy or affordable, and they can take you to all kinds of wonderful new places.  With most of these trips, you get a great balance of fun ship days, relaxing time on the beach and a little exploration of some new regions.  A quick 5 day cruise can be a great deal that includes your food, shipboard entertainment and some affordable land adventures.  Whereas a European Cruise can be a bit longer,  quite elegant with fancy staterooms, formal dining and day trips to some amazing locations abroad.  These trips can run a bit more.

Some people prefer to meet up with a specific group of friends or family at the same place each year. They look forward to time shared together in familiar surroundings that provide a sense of comfort and ease.  Although they may take some excursions,  the focus is more on relaxation since they are already well versed in the area and it’s offerings.

Other people use vacations to visit family or friends that live out of their immediate area. It offers the opportunity to mix a purposeful visit with some local adventures and still grab some rest and relaxation.  This is also a great way to blend up your vacation.

Last year my husband and I went to the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, MD for the wedding of a friend. It happened to be our anniversary weekend and was a great 4 day getaway to an area we had not visited before. It was one of the nicest weddings I have ever attended and there were a lot of activities surrounding the event. But during our free time, we managed to do some exploring and found an Italian bakery in Little Italy, a crab shack on the waterfront, a cool Beer Garden and tons of fun stuff just by walking. Loved it!

In 2016 our son moved to Texas filling his Ford Focus with as much of his belongings as he could take. 2 weeks later my husband and I drove down and took another load of his things.  I knew with just starting his new job that the time he could spend with us was limited.  So we planned a meandering drive down that took 2 days.  Since we had 9 days total, we stayed 2 days with him and checked out his new job and the new city where he lived.  For the next day I booked a room 2 hours away in San Antonio where we grabbed Hop On/Hop Off bus tickets and explored some local attractions like the Riverwalk and the Alamo.  We sampled some hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and tried some local cuisine.  The next morning we set out for 2 beach front nights in Corpus Christi.  Beautiful and relaxing!  After all the driving, hanging out and unwinding on the beach was just the battery recharge we needed for a few days.  From there we stopped back for 1 more day with our son before heading toward home.

I planned for a stop over night to be in Memphis, TN, a place we had not visited before.  It happened to be a Friday night and Biel Street was happening!   The street was lit up like Vegas, bands jamming on every block, people everywhere….Electric.   We ate Memphis BBQ, drank fruity drinks and listened to some great music.  After a good night’s sleep we found our way back home. This trip was a great blend of 1) accomplishing the task of moving our son’s things, 2) creating some site seeing opportunities in Memphis and San Antonio and 3) grabbing some down time on the beach in Corpus Christi.  Good Stuff!

After a vacation people tend to feel more relaxed and refreshed. Their mood is elevated as they return to day-to-day living.  They share some photos of sand castles and family and laugh about wrong turns or small misadventures.  It renews the soul.


Travel is that big trip you save  for a while to take. You plan it over the course of several months or even a year, counting down the days until you pack your suitcase and go.  You get  pumped up with anticipation and can’t sleep the night before you leave.   This may be an adventure you have dreamed about for a long time, or a chance to really dig into a place you have always wanted to see.

When you take time for real travel you get to see some amazing things.   It could be a wilderness stream  in Alaska, a photographic safari in India,  a scenic cruise down the Rhine in Germany,  an eco-adventure in Costa Rica or a hike across Europe.  Everyone has a different idea of what their dream trip is to them.  What’s yours?

I love to try new foods, check out the “must see” sites and find ones I never knew existed too. Guidebooks and travel shows are great ways to learn a little background info before getting to your destination.  I am also not afraid to ask my friends that travel for their insights.

On one of our trips, I wished I had known a little more background information before visiting some of the places we went to.  So since I’m a bit nerdy, I now make sure to read a lot about the history of an area we plan to visit and  try learning some of the language before we go.  I like the Duolingo app….I have used it for both French and Italian.

After you come home from traveling, you feel different somehow.   You have seen things, done things that couldn’t be captured by mere photographs or expressed by words.  You put away your cell phone and laptop and lived in the moment.  Maybe you stood in a museum in front of a painting you had always admired in awe of its purity and that you were right there able to see it up close,  breathed in the smell of lemons wafting through the air in Italy, or had your eyes widen with surprise upon your first view of the Alps as you crested a hill. These are things you can never really explain to others.  They are the memories that are only for you and they create an inner glow.  These are the memories that fill your heart and soul.  But be warned, it’s addictive.  Once you take that first bite of real travel, you will want to go again…you will NEED to go again.

So in my opinion, it is important to enjoy both vacations and travels.    I like to have that carrot that is the next adventure, dangling in front of me at all times.  It helps when life feels a bit dusty and full of ruts to motivate me and keep me moving forward toward that day circled on the calendar.  They say all things should be done in moderation, so blend in some Travel among your Vacations.  Keep nourishing  your spirit and exploring this vast world we live in.  Be brave and step outside your comfort zone.  Put away you fears and excuses, find a way, and just get out there!